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Notable Quotables - 01/25/1999

Conservatives Choose Torturing Clinton Over the Constitution


"I can't answer it in a phrase because it is complicated. Part of it is that you have conservative Republicans who just want to torture the President for as long as they humanly can. But part of it is that you have serious constitutionalists who really think the process should play out - Senator Byrd among them...."
- ABC's Cokie Roberts answering Peter Jennings' question on why it has been hard to start the trial, January 5 World News Tonight.

"Hardest to convince was the 'damn the torpedoes' faction, conservatives who want to barbecue Clinton as long as possible or who hope something might turn up to draw 12 Democrats into the hanging party."
- Time Senior Editor Nancy Gibbs, January 25 issue.


Dan Rather, Defense Counsel


"Bob, is there or is there not any sense among the Senators, any talk among the Senators, that there's other very important business that needs to be attended to? Saddam Hussein has his aircraft in the air threatening U.S. fighting men and women in the military. There are questions about Social Security, what to do about health care. There's a long line of the people's business that seems to have been put aside and apparently is going to be put aside for weeks if not months now."
- Dan Rather to Bob Schieffer at about 1:25pm ET during the signing of the oath book by Senators, January 7.

"Senator, when you talk to other Senators, particularly older Senators - those who've been around for a bit - is or is there not some concern of the public, concern in some quarters, not all of them Democratic, that this is in fact a kind of effort at a quote 'coup,' that is you have a twice elected, popularly elected President of the United States and so those that you mentioned in the Republican Party who dislike him and what he stands for, having been unable to beat him at the polls, have found another way to get him out of office."
- Dan Rather to former Senator Warren Rudman during CBS coverage of the impeachment trial swearing in, January 7.

"What options are open to Trent Lott at this moment, keeping in mind that he is under considerable pressure from his own basic constituency, which is by anybody's analysis, the harder right part of the Republican Party?"
- Dan Rather to CBS News analyst Gloria Borger of U.S. News, January 7.

 

Don't Blame Clinton for Delays?


"But Senator, if there's no way that this is going to turn around, if the votes aren't there, why is your party dragging this thing out?"

"But what is certain is what the public sentiment is on this thing. People want it over with, and if the votes aren't there, why not, why go through all this business about witnesses? Why not just get it done?"
- Good Morning America co-host Charlie Gibson to Bob Dole, January 18.

"Bob Dole was here yesterday, a Republican, who said, look, the 67 votes aren't there and aren't going to be there to convict the President. So why, why drag this out when the public, so obviously, doesn't want it dragged out?"
- Gibson to Democrat George Mitchell, next day.

 

Charles Ruff: Eloquent & Clever; Republicans: Tedious


"Even if they think the President committed these offenses, do they constitute a threat to the Constitution and if they do, should he be removed from office? I thought that Mr. Ruff was quite eloquent in the way he wound that up. Just prior to that, a very clever pre-emptive strike...."
- CBS's Bob Schieffer after Charles Ruff completed his defense case on January 19, referring to Ruff's effort to counter Henry Hyde's recollection of what soldiers died for and how he demonstrated the futility of gaining insights from witnesses.

vs.

"Thus far, Dan, we have not heard either Clarence Darrow or William Jennings Bryan. This has been fairly tedious."
- Schieffer on the opening statements by House managers Henry Hyde and James Sensenbrenner, January 14.

 

Journalists Like Clinton-Lovers Much More Than Clinton-Haters


"I'm surprised at how polarized our country is in relation to President Clinton. A lot of people don't think he's done anything wrong, or if he has that it's anyone's business but his own. And then there are the people who hate Bill Clinton. They've always hated him. Nothing he can ever do will keep them from hating him for the rest of their lives. They call him Slick Willie. You can't talk to these people. I'm glad everyone else is so sure of what they think about Bill Clinton because I don't know what I think. I do know I like the people who like him better than I like the people who hate him."
- Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes, January 17.

 

Scaife and American Spectator: Same As Larry Flynt


"It's obscene that Larry Flynt gets any kind of attention. You're right. He is sleazy. I would point out I didn't hear the same objection from conservatives when The American Spectator, funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the right-winger, launched an inquisition into Bill Clinton's private life."
- Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt, Jan. 16 Capital Gang on CNN.

"This, ladies and gentlemen, I warned you in January, you get there and it will filthify, if that's a word, it will make all of us part of this sleazy process. The urge to destroy the President of the United States is so malignant that nobody will emerge..."
- Geraldo Rivera, January 11 CNBC Rivera Live with Flynt.

 

Brian Williams Picks On Hyde


"Senator Cleland, was it fair of Henry Hyde to bring in the honor of those who gave their lives in Vietnam for the United States, in Normandy for the United States, and somehow tangentially tie them into this Clinton case?"
- NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams to Democratic Senator Max Cleland, January 16.

"You just heard a very emotional summation, a wrap-up of the arguments, by Henry Hyde, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the man who is a former Democrat, the legislator from the state of Illinois, who was once believed, before the current political climate changed in the country, to be as rabid a conservative you could find on Capitol Hill, rapidly being referred to more and more in statesmanlike terms as a, almost a moderate Republican, although his views certainly are on the right side of center."
- MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, January 16.

 

Journalists for Wellstone


"Senator Wellstone, it's been a great pleasure talking to you and you're not running for President, after those sort of passionate words there. Not running for President. We'll have to leave it there. I have to say I'm disappointed."
- MSNBC's John Hockenberry concluding his interview with liberal Democrat Paul Wellstone, January 12.

"I am saddened that Wellstone is not physically able to make the race...Wellstone would have been different, both as a cerebral former college professor and as a vocal tribune for Democratic issues that challenge the safe, centrist certainties of the Clinton administration."
- Former Time reporter Walter Shapiro in his USA Today column, January 13.

 

House Managers = The Klan


"I think there are real questions about separation of powers and I don't think he [Clinton] should go up there [appear before the Senate]. And second of all, that herd of managers from the House, I mean frankly all they were missing was white sheets. They're like night riders going over. This is bigger than Bill Clinton."
- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, January 9 McLaughlin Group.

 

Hastert: Pawn of the Far Right


Host Wolf Blitzer: "What about the argument that some people fear, is that he's simply a stalking horse for Tom DeLay, who really put his candidacy out there, and he's really not his own man, he's going to be beholden to that conservative, very conservative right wing of the Republican Party?"

Steve Roberts, U.S. News contributing editor: "Well, I think that's a real issue. I said earlier that I think Trent Lott can resist those pressures from the House conservatives. Hastert is going to have a much more difficult time resisting those pressures from his own constituency, that's going to be his biggest problem...."
- Exchange on CNN's Late Edition, January 10.

 

Clinton Partisan Sees Partisanship


"The President not only had his speech filled with bipartisan references, but I counted eight times that he added words of bipartisanship or words of congratulations to the Congress about their own, about something. This is clearly a very conciliatory speech, trying very hard to work with these people who are trying him."
- ABC's Cokie Roberts just after Clinton's State of the Union address, January 19.

"I guess I disagree with those who say this was very bipartisan and very conciliatory. All the rhetoric was, but in fact, this was, was quite a partisan speech. The President took the Republican goals, but he had Democratic means to get them..."
- ABC analyst George Stephanopoulos a half hour later.

 

"Grew" by Moderating Reagan


"She [Nancy Reagan] started out a woman whose values I questioned....And I believe that she grew enormously in the presidency and that she changed and that she moderated the administration and I ended up, I ended up admiring her greatly and thinking that she held things together much more than we ever knew and we may never know because she will continue to protect him forever, I think."
- CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl promoting her new book, Reporting Live, January 12 Today.